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Songwriting Guides
Writing a song
Lyrics

A song's lyric are the words that the singer sings. Although often added on as an afterthought by newcomers to songwriting, your lyric can be the most important aspect of your song. Weak words can irritate even the most casual of listener. Strong lyrical ideas engage the listener's imagination and can be as exciting as watching a movie, for example:

You were handsome
You were pretty
Queen of New York City
When the band finished playing
They howled out for more
Sinatra was swinging
All the drunks they were singing
We kissed on a corner
Then danced through the night

Fairytale of New York (The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl)

Your song should make one major point.
Steve Hillier

It is often a good idea to write your lyric as you progress through the song. If you usually hum or 'la la la' along to a strummed guitar, you will find that improvising words or even just vowel sounds can be very helpful in starting your lyric off. It will give you a sense of the vowel and consonant sounds that could fit with your melody, and give you a head start for writing your actual lyric.

Justin HaywardJustin Hayward
'Nights In White Satin' for The Moody Blues was inspired by a girlfriend's romantic gift of white satin sheets.
Listen to the interview Audio help
Richard HawleyRichard Hawley
For performer and producer Richard Hawley, songwriting is about telling the truth: "I tend to write stuff that's dying to get out."
Listen to the interview Audio help
Hal DavidHal David
"When I hear music I hear words, just as I assume the composer hears music when he listens to lyrics."
Listen to the interview Audio help
Here are some more ideas to get you started:

  • Often, less is more. Pop lyrics are usually very simple and involve a lot of repetition. You can afford to repeat the central point of your song several times eg, 'Satisfaction' by the Rolling Stones.
  • Try to ensure your lyrics make sense. Stick to one tense ie, set the song in the past or the present day, not both at once unless you really know what you're doing!
  • Avoid cliché. Nothing will bore your audience more than if they're able to guess what you're going to sing next!
  • Your song should make one major point eg, 'You Don't Have to Say You Love Me', 'Everybody Hurts'. Complicating your song with multiple meanings will lessen its impact.
  • If you constantly struggle writing lyrics, you could always write with someone who specialises in lyric writing. Elton John never writes his own words; Bernie Taupin writes them. They have had a successful writing relationship for decades.
Send us your views or read other peoples'
Send us your comments on: Lyrics








Andrew Clarke, Merthyr Vale, Wales CF48 4TB
I have written some lyrics and a friend has put music to this however, like most song writers they all think it's great! I do believe 3 possibly 4 out of 12 song's written are very good but, looking what to do with them next... We have copy written the lyrics and looking for some body to write the music on paper... any helpers.... Your comments would be appreciated Andrew

Melissa ,Birmingham
Im a huge fan of Green Day and most of my inspiration comes from them. I am 13 years old and i just feel that the only think important in a song is that you connect with the audience, because for example, Billie Joe Armstrong didnt think he was good at singing and he sings his songs to get his ideas into peoples heads and so he feels more close to everyone of his fans.

samuel, Ghana
i write songs because there is a flow from inside, and after which i ask myself "Was i really the one who wrote such a song as this." this makes to understand that the lyrics of your song must be with a tangible point directly relating with your target audience.

Ben From Normandy
Hello, Do not think you are going to write a hit song in a year or so, Lyric writing is something you have to learn over a period of ten years or more. What can look good on paper is not always easy to put music to. if you wrote this following phrase as the first line to your first verse make sure that the important words fall on accented beats of the music (The Downbeat) so when you match the first line of the second verse those accented posistions are matched by equaly important words Example: Seen her put "SOCKS" upon a "ROOSTER" I stood and "WATCHED" his "RED" comb "CURL" By Highliting important words in your story via very good music, it makes the story sound even better to the listener. Make your second verse match the accented words shown in this example. used with permission from the copyright owners "An All American Girl" P.J.Xanadu Music Publishing u.k. (c) Copyright 2006 by J.B. Franklin United Kingdom

Katherine NJ
I like to write songs as much as the next pearson but don't songs also need to show people the greater points of your feelings?Other wise the site is okay!

Tom Wilkowske, Duluth, MN, USA
All in all, this is a fabulous site. One thing about lyrics: they don't always need to be crystal clear. Sometimes ambiguity can give the listener something to chew on (assuming they come back for a second listen). Also: the kernel of a song idea can come at any time; you need to be ready to jot it down or commit it to memory. When you revisit it, you'll see if it still has some staying power.

jessika/Battle Creek
I was in class one day, trying to write a song to leave as an apology on my b/f's voice mail and I was stumped, I've always been able to have my lyrics come right to me, but it just wasnt there today and I searched google and this poped up. And I read through it and it helped so much!!!!! Thanks a bunch

GARY, ENGLAND
I have done a lot of reading lately on the internet and books about lyric writing. An impression I get is that there is a formula of sorts and music publishers will be expecting structure to your lyrics. Seriously aspiring lyricists should study the work of the greats like Jimmy Webb and read up on the craft. Here are a few common bullet points that many of these people are saying; Always write from the heart, ideally from your own experience so the detail isn't phoney. Lyric writing is all about communication so make sure you are getting your point across clearly. Writing about universal experiences or things will touch more people and hopefully make a more popular song. It's OK to say something that's been said before, if it's in a fresh way or maybe adds something fresh to it. Avoid cliches like the plague but a twist to an everyday saying can make a great hook e.g. "Unbreak My Heart". Lyrics sound better if written as conversation or a letter. Make sure the listener knows this is a talking voice or a thinking voice telling the story. Include loads of imagery in your lyrics, your aim is to grab and hold the listeners attention which isn't going to happen if you bore them or write in a style that demands too muuch effort to understand or digest. Paint the picture in words. Every word in your lyric is important. Try to use everyday words most people don't have a dictionary to hand when listening to the radio in the car. Lyrics are usually for story telling so the who, what, why and when rule applies. Get to the point/hook pretty quick or the listener will have switched off before you get there. It's great to be able to say "I just want to express myself and the way I feel" but if you don't do it in an interesting way then you'll be just talking to yourself. Think about the way you listen to the radio and the way you would react to the self indulgent ramblings of some singer. Most people get stuck after one verse. Writting out your ideas freestyle first can help to structure your lyrics into 2 verses and a bridge or just keep the ideas flowing. And finally, don't forget the power of the re-write. Not even the greatest lyric writers would say they get it right first, second, third or even seventh time.

Tony, Stoke
as far as writing lyrics goes for me i try not to sit there for hours until i get a migrane trying to think of something catchy or meaningful. the truth is if youve got the knack the lyrical ideas will just come natrually to you, and at any given time, for example in a nightclub,out shopping,or in my case even on the golf course, my advice is carry a dictophone everywhere you go so if you suddenly have a flash of inspiration while your out n about you can record your lyrics and then work on them in the studio when you get home.

Emma Day Birmingham
I write lyrics on how i truly feel and thats negative at the moment, since i have had a load of bad stuff happen to me in my past. I write songs from the heart its a bit sad if you write them for know reason. I have a really good voice , but i do need some voice coaching to get it a bit strong. I'm trying to learn the guitar and hopefully learn the piano in the near future. I am trying to get a record deal.

louise england
Hey, I started writting lyrics since i was six, i cant read music but would love too then i could work on the music with my lyrics. Being a songwritter i feel is a natural talent you either have it or you dont. Lyrics are extremely important but i feel you shouldnt have to annotate them they should just flow and be natural. Lyrics are the most important part of the song they bring the emotion to the song and they are the structure of the song. I think nthe advice of this website is good. lou xxx

Shauna from Crewe
i'm in a band as the lead singer and i am expected to write lyrics for the music the guys have made but i find it really difficult! how can i get help ??

browny, Hednesford
I think the 'lyric instruction' is nonesense, and would explain why the industry is current filled up to the hilt in useless bland sound-the-same bands. There is no formula, there is no layout or plan. If you choose to use a plan, everything becomes very predictable. Songwriting for me is a spur of the moment thing, 'n I use whatever arrangement goes best with what I'm writing.

Millie Birmingham
Great advice! Thanks!!!

Betty/ Bryan
I want to know how do I get started writing lyrics as a profession?

Matt Golds /Elsenham
I write lyrics because I feel happy about them my lyrics are about me, about my experiances how life can be harsh in that I made this comment * With lyrics and poetry you have to look beyond the text*

Candice, London
I write although expressing a reaction or a realisation. Instead of setting a developing story or event. This captures the audience because its happening 'as they hear it' giving a sense of emotion 'now'! Trying to Rhyme in a song can be a mistake.. too cliche unless thought through, however try listening to 'Portershead' their lyrics and harmonies are so simple yet strong. Art such a Van Gogh's later works express drematically through the brush marks and colours- put this expression in music!

Don Emery, Macclesfield
Just be original and write using your own experiences.

Jem
To be honest, i have been writing lyrics for a while now, and when i have inspiration i have a new set of lyrics, for example i have a fight with my best mate, and i have a song to show for it. writing lyrics is a hobby and also for me too get my anger out on my guitar. I enjoy making music,and its better when its your own from skratch. it make the lyrics more inspirational and they have more of a meaning.'

Rob
Just be honest, it's as simple as that.

jon romain, brentwood
you should write songs on past experiences. its easier.

rhiannon andover
i am 12 and have a pretty good voice and i was wondering on getting a record deal and if thought up some good songs what do suggest i try?

Megan Spruce Grove
Write about what you know. What you like or love and how you feel about that specic thing. It makes it ten times easier instead of makig it up.

Rosalind Winton, Bushey, Hertfordshire
I am a lyricist though I do write my own melodies as well, apart from two or three fantastic collaborators that I work with I also have three other friends I could not do without - the dictionary, theosaurus and a good rhyming dictionary. I love trying to find the simplest way of saying something and often surprise myself when a song really works. My advice is not to rush it, I like to be alone in the house when I am writing and I try to imagine myself in the situation I am writing about so that the lyrics really do come from my soul. So go on, don't be afraid, if it is something you love to do, then do it! GOOD LUCK.

Songwriting Guides Writing a Song Genre Structure Verse Chorus Melody Tempo / Rhythm Harmony Lyrics Beginnings Endings Ideas Rhyme Middle 8 Hooks Performing Working with Other Writers In the Studio Publishers Record Companies Management Staying on Track
 The Songwriting Game
Songwriting Game Pick a chord
Play with chords and find out what kind of songwriter you are with the Songwriting Game.


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